Vientiane province warns it will rescind licences for inactive projects

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Vientiane provincial authorities have warned they will revoke the licences of investors who have not made progress in the development of their concession projects.   

Speaking on the occasion of his recent appointment to the post, provincial Governor Mr Khamphanh Sitthidampha told the media his authorities will scrutinise 92 development projects for which contracts with the province have been signed.

“Projects that have made progress and complied with agreements made with the government will be allowed to continue, but inactive projects will need to be addressed,” he said.

Mr Khamphanh said many investors were interested in putting money into the province, but that inactive projects were delaying development and the issue needed to be tackled promptly.

“We have inspected approved investment projects in several districts to determine whether they are active or inactive. Many hectares of land have been granted for these concessions,” he added.

“We will define what kinds of concession projects have been granted to companies and how many mining projects have been approved. Some investors are still in the process of looking for partners for joint ventures to move their projects forward.”

The governor said companies that are willing to invest in the province would be allowed to continue with their development plans. But those who fail to make any progress will have to be investigated.

“We will inspect the excavations undertaken by mining companies. We need to determine which mining operations should be allowed to continue and which should be halted and the land preserved for tourism purposes,” he added.

The governor highlighted the need to protect catchment areas, saying that projects on these sites should be re-evaluated.

The governor touched on issues relating to the natural beauty of Vangvieng, particularly the Xong River, saying that the catchment needed to be protected to sustain tourism.

“We need to maintain the quality of the Xong River,” Mr Khamphanh said. “We also need to protect the environment and mountains around Vangvieng for the sustainable growth of tourism.”

Inactive projects have not only been reported in Vientiane province but across the whole country.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Sommad Pholsena, told the media during a June meeting between cabinet members and provincial governors that the government has inspected more than 1,000 land concession projects, covering a total of 22,000 hectares.

Of these, 138 projects had failed to follow through on agreements signed with the government.

Also in June, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith set up a task force to address delayed investment projects and to prevent companies from postponing the development of schemes for which they had been granted land concessions. 

The move is aimed at spurring economic growth and generating jobs for local people, to alleviate poverty.

The government welcomes all companies keen to invest in Laos, but those who fail to implement the contracts they signed can expect to have their licences revoked.